Short answer: Yes, raw salmon heads for dogs are perfectly fine to feed as long as they’ve been frozen beforehand. More on that later.
I’m excited to report that Missy & Buzz recently had raw salmon heads and very much liked them. It took them about 20 minutes to eat them in their entirety.
What’s in raw salmon heads?
They’re a great addition to a raw doggie diet for a natural boost of joint and skin health.
If you feed your pups raw fish, there’s no need to add bottled fish oil to their meals.
Where to buy raw salmon heads for dogs
Asian grocery stores
I found the raw salmon heads at the fish counter of a local, Korean-owned, asian grocery store on my search for odd cuts of meat. Originally I thought I might find something like chicken feet and/or organs.
I actually had no clue it had a separate fish section until I got there. However, they didn’t carry any chicken feet or organs. It wasn’t too much of a bummer because I can get organic chicken feet from a local farm. But they’re a bit on the expensive side which is why I was hoping to find them for less at this asian store.
Either way, I had been meaning to check it out for a while and am glad I drove the 12 miles one way. They had exactly two raw salmon heads left! Of course I snatched them up before anyone else could.
Each head was frozen solid, about $5.00 and weighed 1 lb 11 oz!
Regular grocery stores
If you can’t find an asian grocery store with a fish section, try your luck at a better stocked traditional supermarket. I’m thinking of The Fresh Market, Harris Teeter, or Wegmans.
They might just have a salmon (or other fish) head on display that you could get your hands on.
I saw a fellow raw feeder mention that approach on Instagram and thought it was a clever idea .
Just make sure to freeze it for 3 weeks before feeding it to your pup – more on that below!
Raw pet food retailers
You can also order raw salmon heads from specific raw dog food retailers.
Unfortunately, one of my favorite ones, Raw Feeding Miami, only carries ground salmon and salmon chunks.
Update 2021: Raw Feeding Miami now carries fish heads! They offer them as a variety mix of salmon, grouper and snapper heads.
While browsing the raw food community on Instagram, I found salmon heads for sale from San Francisco Raw (sfraw), but they don’t ship. All of their orders must be picked up in their store or, if you live in the greater San Francisco area, they can be delivered to a local address. They charge $3.00 per lb of salmon heads/tail/trim.
Raw salmon heads can be fed whole
No need to debone the salmon head!
Just like any other raw meaty bones, raw salmon heads can be fed in their entirety. That includes gills and bones. My guess is that the raw salmon heads the pups ate were about 80% meat and 20% bone.
If your dog is too small for a salmon head or his teeth are in a bad condition, you could simply grind it. The Weston Butcher Series #32 is powerful enough for the job (Amazon affiliate link).
If you do a YouTube search for “dogs eating salmon heads” you’ll get a ton of hits. Just like this one of 15 year old Border Collie Sweety enjoying her fishy snack:
Feed the whole salmon heads outside if possible
I decided to feed the raw salmon heads on the grass in our backyard because I really didn’t feel like stinking up the house. Don’t get me wrong, I like fish myself and eat it just about every other week.
But I typically put it right into the pan or the oven and don’t gnaw on the raw thing for an extended period of time.
So backyard it was – if you don’t have that option, try lighting a few candles and open windows while your pup enjoys the fishy delicacy.
What about salmon poisoning?
As I did a little research on the matter, I found out that raw salmon (and other fish) from the Pacific Northwest can carry an organism which causes salmon poisoning.
Dogs who eat raw salmon infected with the organism can get sick and come down with high fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and ultimately die if the condition is left untreated.
In order to avoid this scenario, don’t feed your dog fresh raw salmon (or other raw fish from the Pacific Northwest). Make sure to deep-freeze it beforehand for 3 weeks which will inactivate the organism.
The article I read on the subject was written by Dr. Karen Becker, a holistic veterinarian and advocate of a species-appropriate, raw diet. You can read it here.
Final thoughts on raw salmon heads for dogs
I’m excited to have expanded our raw feeding adventure by yet another new cut of raw meat. Both Missy & Buzz did fine with their respective salmon head.
Since they were rather large and heavy, they pretty much covered a whole day’s food allowance. The pups only got a little green tripe for a later evening snack.
Since I don’t feed fish on a weekly basis, I’ll try to let the pups enjoy a salmon head each on a monthly basis as long as I can find them.
Do you feed your pups raw salmon (heads) or other fish? Let me know in the comments!